Book Summary from Amazon
A New York Times bestseller, January First captures Michael and his family's remarkable story in a narrative that forges new territory within books about mental illness. In the beginning, readers see Janni’s incredible early potential: her brilliance, and savant-like ability to learn extremely abstract concepts. Next, they witnesses early warning signs that something is not right, Michael’s attempts to rationalize what’s happening, and his descent alongside his daughter into the abyss of schizophrenia. Their battle has included a two-year search for answers, countless medications and hospitalizations, allegations of abuse, despair that almost broke their family apart and, finally, victories against the illness and a new faith that they can create a life for Janni filled with moments of happiness.
A compelling, unsparing and passionate account, January First vividly details Schofield’s commitment to bring his daughter back from the edge of insanity. It is a father’s soul-baring memoir of the daily struggles and challenges he and his wife face as they do everything they can to help Janni while trying to keep their family together.
My Review - 5 star
This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Emotional, heartbreaking, passionate, the incredible scary reality of the Schofields. I will be following Michael's blog, Jani's Journey, as I am in awe of his commitment, he may not be perfect but him and his wife Susan are amazing in my eyes. They did for Jani what no other parent or medical professional could have done. They loved Jani with a true forever.
I didn't realise it was the same family I had seen on the news or Oprah but what I saw was how the book ended with the decision to live separately. It was great to see how it all began with January and how being called January would trigger one of her tantrums, soon becoming reality of her hallucinations. Her parents thought she may be a genius as she could read and write, had a mathematical mind at age 2 but reality was there was something more, a psychosis. Many medical staff I don't think understood what Michael and Susan were going through because January was there youngest patient to have schizophrenia and I believe they were scared to label her. During this long year she was misdiagnosed or maybe a better term would be the professionals lacked the importance of diagnosing her. I have to give the parents the out most respect for pushing forward and wanting the best for their family. Jani is five so some believe it is just sever anxiety, autistic, she doesn't want to deal with the real world and maybe even bipolar. The parents are questioning schizophrenia and keep getting shut down, this was mind blowing to me.
My only query which I have to be honest is a little judgemental, why would they have another child. I loved how near the end this was answered, not only for me but for them also. The violence they experienced was unreal and when Jani asked to go to the psyche ward so she won't hurt her brother or mommy it was torture, she is only 5, how can she understand that. At times I had to put the book down, it was just to hard to embrace but I felt the pull to pick it back up and read on.
There were some funny scenes that were also educational. Michael forgot to cut her medicine so bit it to give to her and a few crushed pieces he swallowed. The effect of this seriously had me crying with laughter. Finding the right medicine for January was difficult and hardly noticed as an impact to her, but a few crushed pieces had Michael in a moment of feeling like he was stuck in quick sand, reality or not, totally funny.
I loved how the idea of living in 2 homes came from them, undeniable love. They didn't know how they would do it but learned to figure it out moment to moment. I look forward to following there journey.
I have always had a love for understanding mental illness which is what drew me to this book.
I wish the Schofield's the best and hope the journey gets easier, continue to love and uphold each other. I also hope that one day a magic drug will assist families with mental illness, either with a cure or way to have more than just great moments but amazing days, weeks, months or years.
A few favourite quotes
I'm relieved, still clinging to the belief that the source of Janni's violence is a disconnect between the age of her body and the age of her mind. Kindle at 17%
I want to take Susan in my arms, but not because I want to comfort her. There is no comforting. This is hell. I want to grab on to Susan to stop myself from slipping under. My heart is ripping apart. Kindle at 36%
But every day there are also moments where I see her smile, moments when I havve hope, moments when I feel at peace with our future, whatever might come our way. Kindle at 99%